Annual church giving tops $50 billion, according to one report.
The average Christian puts roughly $800 a year into the collection plate.
But that's dog-bites-man kind of news, meaning it's not really news. It's too routine.
On the other hand, you know what makes for interesting stories? Churches giving away cash for members to go out and do good deeds, that's what. I like those kind of headlines, especially at Christmastime.
Enter Julie Zauzmer, religion writer for the Washington Post, with a feel-good report out of a Maryland suburb:
On the first Sunday of December, the Rev. Ron Foster invited his congregants to step up to the altar to receive the bread and wine of Communion — and to receive a $100 bill.
“Listen to where the Holy Spirit’s leading you,” he said to the stunned congregation as he distributed a stack of money at Severna Park United Methodist Church, located in a Maryland suburb. “Listen to the need that’s around you, that you find in the community. You may be in the right place at the right time to help somebody, because you have this in your hand.”
One hundred congregants walked out into the Advent season, with the money burning a hole in their pockets.
One stack of bills totaling $10,000, dropped off at the church by an anonymous donor, has turned into 100 good deeds in the Severna Park community this Christmas season.
Ginger ale and soup and warm socks for a cancer patient. Snow pants and gloves so a child with a brain tumor can play outside. Christmas presents for children who are homeless, for children whose parents are struggling with drug addiction, for children whose parents have suffered domestic abuse, for children in the hospital. Cash for dozens of grateful strangers, from waitresses to bus drivers to leaf collectors.
One hundred donations go a long way.
The story notes that the donor — who asked to remain anonymous but granted an interview to the Post — "had heard about other communities, including her mother’s church in Texas, where everyone in the congregation was entrusted with money to distribute."